05 CARTES DE VISITE

The idea to print photographic portraits on business cards was patented in Paris in 1854. When even Napoleon III (1808-1873) started circulating such cartes de visite of himself and his family, a “business card epidemic” began. Photography studios across Europe specialised in these handy small formats. In 1857, when Göttingen had 10,000 inhabitants, there were five studios that manufactured these cartes de visite. The age of photography had begun for the portrait genre.

A MEDIUM FOR THE BOURGEOISIE Standardised manufacturing and formats made the cartes de visite affordable, even for the general population. For the bourgeoisie in particular, they became a convenient medium to highlight their growing self-confidence. Draperies, pillars and luxurious furnishings provided a suitable ambience in the photo studios, tied in with motifs from portraits of rulers, but also staged the upscale bourgeois living culture. Ideal aspirations and material possessions inscribed themselves in the bourgeois self-portrayal.

THE SCIENTIST AS A CITIZEN Photographic business cards also put scholars in a new light. The professor as member of an academic community dedicated to the preservation and transmission of tradition was replaced by the figure of the individual researcher. Common virtues such as achievement, work and discipline replaced robes and academic insignia. Suit and attitude turned the scholar into a citizen.

FLYING PORTRAITS

Due to their handy appearance, these cards could be reproduced at will and therefore played an exceptional part in the dissemination of portraits amongst scientists. Packed in small envelopes, they could easily be sent around the world by ship, carriage or train. However, cartes de visite were also exchanged in direct encounters, for example, amongst scientists at conferences. For the students, the pictures of their professors were a popular collectible and barter object. For advertising purposes, the back of the card often contained a reference to the photo studio that took the respective photo.

PERSONAL DEDICATION
Cartes de visite were passed from hand to hand, often with a personal inscription from the giver.

RICHARD ABEGG (1869–1910)
Scientific research assistant of physics Professor Walther Nernst, date unknown (2nd half of the 19th century)
Carte de Visite (back page)
State and University Library of Göttingen, Voit Collection

HEINRICH AUGUST RUDOLF GRISEBACH (1814–1879)
Professor of Botany
date unknown (2nd half of the 19th century), Carte de Visite
State and University Library of Göttingen, Voit Collection

GÖTTINGEN’S PHOTOGRAPHERS
There was great demand for cartes de visite depicting scientists at the University of Göttingen. The photo salons of Bernard Petri, Peter Matzen and Wilhelm Grape were particularly active in the cartes de visite business.

LUDWIG PRANDTL (1875–1953)
Professor of Applied Mechanics
date unknown (1st half of the 20th century), Carte de Visite
State and University Library of Göttingen, Voit Collection

LUDWIG PRANDTL (1875–1953)
Professor of Applied Mechanics
date unknown (1st half of the 20th century), Carte de Visite
State and University Library of Göttingen, Voit Collection

JHERING IN TRANSFORMATION
The series of different cartes de visite of the lawyer Rudolf von Jhering allow a comparative view of his aging process.

RUDOLF VON JHERING (1818–1892)
Professor of Law
date unknown (2nd half of the 19th century), Carte de Visite State and University Library of Göttingen, Voit Collection

RUDOLF VON JHERING (1818–1892)
Professor of Law
date unknown (2nd half of the 19th century), Carte de Visite , State and University Library of Göttingen, Voit Collection

RUDOLF VON JHERING (1818–1892)
Professor of Law
date unknown (2nd half of the 19th century), Carte de Visite,
City Museum Göttingen

AN ALBUM FOR DAVID HILBERT

From the 1860s onwards, the new portrait medium was very popular amongst scholars. In addition to the marketing of cartes de visite by means of employing professional photo agencies to portray well- known scientists, scholars also used them as a private collectible and as bargaining currency. They sent each other portraits, tried to get a carte de visite from their esteemed colleagues and in return sent their own countenance. Especially for this purpose, people would often create albums with corresponding insert sleeves like the one given as a present to Goettingen’s mathematician David Hilbert (1862-1943). Albums of this kind unite colleagues working at different locations, create a scientific community on a small scale, mark a common professional style and are focal points of personal networks.

PHOTO ALBUM FOR DAVID HILBERT
1922
State and University Library of Göttingen

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